Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Perceptual and attentional factors in encoding irrelevant spatial information

  • 98 Accesses

  • 5 Citations

Abstract

Numerous studies found superior performance when the irrelevant location of a stimulus and response location were corresponding than when they were not corresponding (Simon effect), suggesting that stimulus location is processed in an obligatory manner. The present study compared Simon effects from the location of a relevant (i.e., to-be-attended) object to those from the location of an irrelevant (i.e., to-be-ignored) object. In four experiments, participants were presented with a rectangular frame and a square, with the relevant object in green or red color and the irrelevant object in gray or white color. Participants’ task was to respond with a lateral keypress to the color of the relevant object, and we varied spatial correspondence between the location of the relevant or the irrelevant object and the response, respectively. Results consistently showed larger Simon effects from the location of the relevant than from the irrelevant object, even when the irrelevant object was made very salient. These results suggest that location processing is largely confined to relevant (i.e., attended) objects, stressing the role of attention shifts for location encoding.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7

References

  1. Bertelson, P. (1999). Ventriloquism: A case of cross-modal perceptual grouping. In G. Aschersleben, T. Bachmann, & J. Müsseler (Eds.), Cognitive contributions to the perception of spatial and temporal events (pp. 347–362). Amsterdam: North-Holland.

  2. Bertelson, P., Vroomen, J., de Gelder, B., & Driver, J. (2000). The ventriloquist effect does not depend on the direction of deliberate visual attention. Perception & Psychophysics, 62, 321–332.

  3. Castiello, U., & Umiltà, C. (1992). Splitting focal attention. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 18, 837–848.

  4. Cave, K. R., & Bichot, N. P. (1999). Visuospatial attention: Beyond a spotlight model. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 6, 204–223.

  5. Duncan, J. (1984). Selective attention and the organization of visual information. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 113, 501–517.

  6. Eriksen, C. W. (1995). The flankers task and response competition: A useful tool for investigating a variety of cognitive problems. In C. Bundesen & H. Shibuya (Eds.), Visual selective attention (pp. 101–118). Hillsdale: Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

  7. Hommel, B. (1993a). The role of attention for the Simon effect. Psychological Research, 55, 208–222.

  8. Hommel, B. (1993b). The relationship between stimulus processing and response selection in the Simon task: Evidence for a temporal overlap. Psychological Research, 55, 280–290.

  9. Hommel, B. (1997). Toward an action-concept model of stimulus–response compatibility. In B. Hommel & W. Prinz (Eds.), Theoretical issues in stimulus–response compatibility (pp. 281–320). Amsterdam: Elsevier.

  10. Kahneman, D., & Treisman, A. (1984). Changing views of attention and automaticity. In R. Parasuraman & D. R. Davies (Eds.), Varieties of attention (pp. 29–61). Orlando: Academic Press.

  11. Kornblum, S., Hasbroucq, T., & Osman, A. (1990). Dimensional overlap: Cognitive basis for stimulus–response compatibility: A model and taxonomy. Psychological Review, 97, 253–270.

  12. Kramer, A. F., & Jacobson, A. (1991). Perceptual organization and focused attention: The role of objects and proximity in visual processing. Perception & Psychophysics, 50, 267–284.

  13. MacLeod, C. M. (2005). The Stroop task in cognitive research. In A. Wenzel & D. C. Rubin (Eds.), Cognitive methods and their application to clinical research (pp. 17–40). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

  14. Müsseler, J., Wühr, P., & Umiltà, C. (2006). Processing of irrelevant location information under dual-task conditions. Psychological Research, 70, 459–467.

  15. Nicoletti, R., & Umiltà, C. (1994). Attention shifts produce spatial stimulus codes. Psychological Research, 56, 144–150.

  16. Posner, M. I. (1980). Orienting of attention. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 32A, 3–25.

  17. Posner, M. I., & Snyder, C. R. R. (1975). Attention and cognitive control. In R. L. Solso (Ed.), Information processing and cognition. The Loyola Symposium (pp. 55–85). Hillsdale (NJ): Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

  18. Simon, J. R., & Craft, J. L. (1970). Effects of an irrelevant auditory stimulus on visual choice reaction time. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 86, 272–274.

  19. Stoffer, T. H., & Umiltà, C. (1997). Spatial stimulus coding and the focus of attention in S–R compatibility and the Simon effect. In B. Hommel & W. Prinz (Eds.), Theoretical issues in stimulus–response compatibility (pp. 181–208). Amsterdam: Elsevier.

  20. Stroop, J. R. (1935). Studies of interference in serial verbal reactions. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 18, 643–662.

  21. Wühr, P., & Waszak, F. (2003). Object-based attentional selection can modulate the Stroop effect. Memory & Cognition, 31, 983–994.

  22. Yantis, S., & Jonides, J. (1990). Abrupt visual onsets and selective attention: Voluntary versus automatic allocation. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 16, 121–134.

  23. Zorzi, M., & Umiltà, C. (1995). A computational model of the Simon effect. Psychological Research, 58, 193–205.

Download references

Acknowledgment

We thank Bianca Roth for running the experiments.

Author information

Correspondence to Peter Wühr.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Wühr, P., Biebl, R., Umiltà, C. et al. Perceptual and attentional factors in encoding irrelevant spatial information. Psychological Research 73, 350–363 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00426-008-0160-8

Download citation

Keywords

  • Simon Effect
  • Irrelevant Stimulus
  • Simon Task
  • Relevant Object
  • Stimulus Configuration